18910506 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/3vbx-j588


No 12                           Carácas

6th May 1891


My dear Mother,

In my No 11, by last Royal Mail, I promised to write again by following American Steamer leaving today, which promise I have not been able to keep, but there is a French boat leaving tomorrow which will only be a couple of days behind the New York mail, so I shall almost redeem my undertaking. But as it is after 11 p.m. already you must not be surprised if my letter reads sleepily. I have been running about this afternoon, with the thermometer at butter-melting point, & have talked & listened to a lot of “gas” – all in the interests of business.

After dinner I had to pay a visit & relate my travel’s history to four pretty girls; – all of which is very fatiguing, though I am not unconscious of the high privilege of having such a fair audience.

Since sending my last I have recvd. your welcome letter of 12th April, but the two March letters are still missing.

Father will remember giving me the address of a young engineer called Bartels, a protégé of Aunt Emma’s.[1] On enquiry I found he was working at a place called El Tigrito, distant some four hours’ journey by rail & mule from Caracas.[2] I sent him a card, asking him to look me up should he come to the “Capital” during my stay. The following Sunday he came up expressly to call on me, & not finding me at home he waited till Monday. He seemed pleased to see me & paid me a long visit on Monday morning. I asked him to lunch with me & we had quite a long chat, during which he spoke very gratefully & affectionately of Aunt Emma. He seems a nice fellow; – works hard & takes great interest in his profession. He does not put much money to the good at present, but when his contract is ended with the Company, in another year & a half, he hopes to go in for the more lucrative branch of sub-contracting.

He intends sending Aunt Emma some photographs, which he has taken himself, of his surroundings at Tigrito, & he has also promised to send me some before I leave.

I shall be glad if Father will communicate this part of my letter to Aunt Emma.

I also made the acquaintance, the other day, of two young men called Letts, from Chile, who curious to say, are cousins of Prof. Letts.[3]

The reason I was not to be found on Sunday was that I had accepted an invitation to lunch at Mr & Mrs Eraso’s country house, a short distance out of town. Mr Luis Eraso is a young man, partner in one of the leading firms here, educated at Oxford or Cambridge – I forget which, though he does not for he wears the arms of his college prominently on his gardening cap. In spite of that & one or two other little weaknesses in the direction of Anglo-mania he is a very nice fellow, & his wife, daughter of a former English minister to Bogotá, is an exceptionally nice woman.[4] There were about a dozen people present, all of whom spoke English; the luncheon was excellent & the conversation interesting, & altogether we spent four hours in the most pleasant manner. The house is large & tastefully furnished & the extensive grounds, – almost a Park – planted to advantage with orange-trees, bamboos, & avenues of mangoes.

After a cup of tea at four o’clock we walked back into town through the cool shade of a fine coffee plantation.


7th May  6.15 a.m. I cannot resist noting the hour. You see the first worm runs a poor chance with me. But to be honest, I should still be in bed, had not that relentless ebony porter, Mr Santana, insisted on my turning out to receive a message about those photographs.

I hope to move on in a few days. Please address

c/o Da Costa Co Barbados

Best love



  1. This is Emma Löwenthal, Julius’ older sister in Ludwigslust – never married – born and died there (b 1831, d 1913). There were many Bart(h)els in Ludwigslust. Hard to know who her protégé was and what business he was doing in Venezuela.
  2. Probably El Tigrito, Miranda, some 42 km away.
  3. Edmund Algert Letts (b 27th August 1852, d 19th February 1918) was Professor of Chemistry at Queens College, Belfast 1879-1917: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._A._Letts
  4. Luis Eraso, Merchant, (b~1855 Caracas, d Caracas 1899). He married Helen Baldock Bunch (b ~ 1855 in NYC).


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John McCaldin Loewenthal: Letters Home from a Victorian Commercial Traveller, 1889 - 1895 Copyright © 2022 by Michelle Fink, Robert Boyd, Sarah Watkinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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